Barrel Racing Saddle

Racing implies performance and as few pounds as possible in the saddle. As a result this is the lightest of saddles, under 30 lbs.

An additional characteristic is a flat seat permitting a rider effortless positioning to help balance the mount in turns. The fenders are free swinging to provide extra balance. The cantle and also pommel are usually higher to provide the rider a secure and safe ride. The horn is usually taller for a quick dismount.

Stirrups have a slim tread for a more secure grip on the boot as well as rawhide trim which increases resilience when coming in contact with the barrel.

Purchasing Barrel Saddles
Barrel Saddles are speed saddles and as a result are a customized piece of equipment. Any type of racing will be affected by weight, although it is probably not a decisive factor other than in the highest levels of competition.

When you are in the market for a saddle, bring your horse with you. You would usually shop and try  many hats on before you make a buying decision and saddles are no different. Take your own horse and get feedback from several saddle stores. You will learn a lot in the process. Work out for yourself what is important in a saddle for you. Know the following terminology as well as it’s significance before you go shopping.

Pay attention to weight, ability to move in the seat, breast collars, higher cantle and pommel, slender stirrups, durable tree and modest skirt.

The saddle needs to fit your horse, but it also needs to fit you. Try it on for size to determine a good fit.

The barrel horse works at high-speed and can make tight turns. The saddle should be built with skirt rigging to keep everything tight and provide close contact from horse and rider.

Trail Saddle Fit

The Trail Saddle is on your horse for extended periods.  Proper fit is essential.

Frequently we hear discussion that when a saddle does not fit, just try out a variety of pads. This way of thinking is bothersome for many reasons.

  • Whenever a saddle is truly too narrow for the horse, a larger pad will simply cause the problem to get worse. If the saddle is actually too narrow , there is no special pad, breast collar, or even a increased tight cinch that will ensure fit.
  • The saddle that’s too narrow may slip sideways, producing pressure spots in front and back of the saddle.  This uneven pressure will also cause the horse irritation. The saddle is not in position to perform its function by equally disbursing rider weight. It is forced to concentrate weight in small points forward and back.
  • Whenever a saddle is just too broad for a horse, the rider may be sitting right on the horse’s backbone rather than utilizing the bars to distribute the bodyweight.  The saddle is going to rest too low on the horse’s withers and may push up in the back. Additionally since there is no standardization for the terms “semi Quarter horse bars” and “full Quarter horse bars”. A full Quarter horse bar for one brand of saddle will fit differently than another brand saddle. This is especially true with regards to saddles with specialized trees.

Several techniques to test your Trail Saddle and see if your saddle fits:

1) The saddle remains in place when you ride without a breast collar and the cinch does not cut into your horse.

2) The perspiration pattern beneath the saddle is even without dry areas.

3) The horse does not have whitened spots or rubbed-away hair.

4) The saddle looks even and not tilted forward or popping up in the rear. The saddle is not sitting low on the withers. There is sufficient width in between the withers as well as the gullet.

5) Place the saddle on the horse without a saddle blanket. Feel underneath the saddle. Is there is contact all the way around the horse’s back?

 If your horse has gained weight, the saddle will not fit the same. In the event the saddle was tailored to your horse while young, his shape has changed as he has aged.  The saddle will fit differently. Always be aware of changes and saddle fit.

Fitting a Barrel Saddle, Trail Saddle or Ranch Saddle to a Horse

If you need a barrel saddle or trail saddle or even a ranch saddle you have to realize that just like people, horses change size.  Horses grow, add muscle, lose muscle, eat, etc.  You can buy a perfectly fitted saddle today and you may need to add shims and padding next year.

Most saddles are built for Quarter Horse builds.  Quarter Horse type breeds are round with hardly any withers with a flat back.   If you have a horse built like a Quarter Horse, you have a large selection of saddles.

If you have a gaited horse, draft horse, Arabian, Morgan, Paso, or other breeds not shaped like quarter horse be prepared to look harder for a saddle and pay more for it.

Rigid Saddle Tree

This is the frame or skeleton of the saddle.  The tree is made of wood or polymer plastic.  Both types properly constructed make a quality saddle.  Wood if not properly constructed, rawhide or fiberglass covered and made water-resistant can rot.  Wood is usually heavier.  Plastic is one piece construction.  Two companies make many of the trees in the US, Ralide Corp and Steele Saddle Tree Co.

  • Bars.  The bars contact the horse and support the saddle and the weight of the rider.
  • Pommel.  The front of the saddle tree attached to the bars and supporting the horn.
  • Cantle.  The back of the tree attached to the bars.
  • Horn.  Attached to the pommel with screws or nails.

Flexible Saddle Tree

This tree differs from the standard tree in that it has some flex from front to back.  The bars are plastic polymer that is a formula with a little flex.  The flex tree has little flex from shoulder to shoulder.  If you don’t have a saddle fitted to each of your horses and your horses have similar build, you might want to consider a flexible tree.  Buy the saddle to fit the widest horse.
Gullet.  The gullet is the part of the saddle where the pommel attaches to the bars of the tree on each side. The measurement is the width from side to side. Gullet height is the measurement to the underside of the pommel with the bare tree sitting on the floor.

Bar Types.  The bar type is the angle at which the bars lay on the horses back or if they may flare out in the front to make room for the shoulders.  Most single piece polymer trees are designed for Quarter Horses.  Unlike polymer trees, the bar type on wooden trees can be changed.

  • Quarter Bar.  Standard tree.  (Gullet width 6 ¾” at the tree)
  • Semi Quarter.  Bars are angled more than the quarter bar for horses with more withers like Arabians.
  • Full Quarter.  Larger, wider horses.  The back of the bars are the same and the front of the bars are wider to about 7”.
  • Gaited Bar
  • Draft Bar
  • Mule Bar
  • Arabian Bar

    The best advise is to become a knowledgeable saddle buyer and take your horse with you to try on saddles.  Take your time shopping and when you know what you want, buy from a reputable manufacturer.